Top 5 of 2013

 

It is time for my Top 5 of 2013 (as organised by the lovely Gillian. I can’t believe this time last year I didn’t know her!). I have to review my Sewlutions tomorrow for the Mistress of the Jar, so I’m going to pack a lot in this post…

Lets start with the misses2013 misses

  • I learned so much making my Couture Jacket and am really pleased with the construction and techniques I used. But I’ve only worn it a couple of times. I’m hoping it is because the typical British spring went from freezing to boiling in a week, so fingers-crossed I enjoy wearing it this spring.
  • My Dotty Dolly Cambie dress remains unblogged ūüė¶ I was so excited making it – polka dots, a Cambie dress, ric-rac…. all the ingredients for a perfect dress. But wearing it didn’t feel perfect. I think I prefer the gathered skirt to the a-line version I did here, and the fabric for my floral Cambie flows better. Again. I will try it again in spring as it was finished just as the heatwave started, and all the lining was a bit too sticky.
  • Inspired by meetings with Charity Shop Chic I got some items to refashion. Have you seen them yet? Nope. Because there was a lot of brain power involved in fitting my pattern pieces onto refashioned parts of garments. I will definitely put these to the top of my to-sew pile as one is fuscia silk and the other is red wool.
  • My red Basic Bella cardigan has been worn frequently these past few months and is a great chunky cardigan for a chilly day. But it is chunky. The cotton blend yarn stretches (not enough research done) and I made it fit my measurements, not incorporating negative/zero ease for a close fit (beginner knitter’s mistake) so overall it is rather baggy and can look a bit sloppy. It is still great to wear, but it has to go in the miss category since it was one of the causes of my bad wrists ūüė¶
  • Finally my first Anna dress. Its not a total disaster, and most of the lovely comments suggested chopping the sleeves off (a job that can wait until it gets a bit warmer!), but I felt disappointed with it after all the Anna love around the blogosphere.

Hits 2013

 

 

I had a lot of trouble choosing my hits as I’ve made so many nice things this year; I feel my sewing has improved and I have a better sense of what suits me now, so there were less disasters.

  • I love my stripy Tiramisu dress and it was a great introduction to Cake Patterns. Steph’s drafting and custom fit instructions are great, and so it was easy to get a fit and finish I was happy with. I wore this loads over the summer – perfect for pulling on with sandals – even though it is still un-hemmed! oops! I made a long sleeve version which was also great, so this pattern will be staying in my collection.
  • My Polka-dot Portrait Blouse was a simple cotton tee but it was perfect over the summer. Loose enough to stay cool, but with enough subtle shaping. I lived in this with my cropped jeans, which was quite a revelation for a stretch t-shirt girl.
  • I made a quilt!! What more do I need to say?! I learned so much, caught the patchwork and quilting bug, and now can stay cozy while lounging on the sofa.
  • My floral Cambie was another great dress that worked for all occasions; school, weddings and lazy weekends. I feel so good in it as there is the right balance between style and comfort, the fabric is soft and scrummy, and I did some good pattern alterations to get the perfect fit (and at a meet-up someone was wearing a Cambie they had altered using my tutorial!)
  • Finally, since it is the only garment in season at the moment, is my Liberty Hawthorn. I wasn’t convinced about the pattern until I saw all the versions popping up on people’s blogs. This is the fourth fabric version of this, after lots of muslin-ing to get the bodice darts to fit once I’d done a big FBA, so I’m proud of all the work that went into making it. Again, I feel really good in it – not showy, but just quietly confident, like a stylish grown-up in it.

Reflections:

  • Do you notice anything about all my hit garments? A Cake pattern, a Gertie pattern, a Sewaholic pattern and a Colette pattern. I didn’t realise until writing this, but all my hits have been from independent pattern designers (my By Hand London blazer was almost in the top 5). This isn’t deliberate but I think it reflects my sewing process. Since blogging and reading other bloggers I have discovered new companies I’d never heard of. And since these companies all blog, I get to see inside the patterns and get more inspiration than is on the pattern envelope. To be honest, I’m not sure what the last Big 4 pattern I used was…
  • Three out of four hit garments are dresses! I feel good when I’m wearing a well fitted dress, and it is less hassle getting dressed in the morning. Yet I feel like dresses are impractical and don’t sew that many. This must change!
  • I like learning and I want to expand my skills. This year I learned some couture skills, I learned to patchwork blocks and how to free-motion quilt, I learnt how to add darts to knitting (yes, bust darts on my knitted cardigan coming soon once it is dried. Blocking takes so long in winter!) and I learnt more about photography and taking better pictures. As we say in school, I have a growth mind-set towards my sewing learning.
  • Sewing is more fun when you can share with people who understand you. I love, love, LOVE my new Sewcialist and Spoolette friends here on the blog, on twitter and instagram and now in real life thanks to lots of meet-ups ūüôā It is so great having people who understand your passion for creating and who can offer advice from experience, but most of the time we meet we don’t talk about sewing; there is almost an unspoken attitude towards life that we all share, despite being totally different and having different other interests, which means we can get on so well.
  • I’m pretty awesome. This isn’t said in an arrogant way, but in a “I have previously had such low self-confidence but I’m actually starting to believe I’m good” sort of way.
  • I need to craft; it is not just a hobby anymore, it is part of my life. When my wrists were bad and I had to rest, I had no idea what to do with myself. I felt twitchy and on edge for weeks as I hadn’t made anything for ages, and this in turn made me feel really low (in combination with the pain and frustration).

Inspirations:

  • All my sewing and crafting inspiration comes from the sewcialists and spoolettes and all the great blogs I read. If I had to pick my main inspirations, they would be:
    Jo  (Sew Little Time) because I think we sew quite a lot of similar things and are similar height so I can trust her makes will also look good on me.
    Struggle Sews A Straight Seam because her blog makes me smile so much, and she has a great approach to sewing wearable garments.
    Gillian (Crafting A Rainbow) because we are like the same person on different continents; both teach little kiddies, both love bright colours and sewing wearable jersey. And Gillian is always behind a twitter plan!
    Amy (Almond Rock) as she makes such cute tops with great fabric. And she turned her blog into self-hosted (I may need her help soon since I’ve nearly reached my storage limit on wordpress, eek!)
    Roisin (Dolly Clackett) for all her amazing and FUN dresses (and she is such a lovely friend).

Goals:

  • Make more dresses. I feel great in dresses, so I should make more.
  • Wear an entirely me-made outfit at least once. The only RTW items I have to buy at the moment are bras and socks. I have some sock-weight yarn and I’ve signed up to a bra-making course at Morley College (its not for a style I really wear, since that sold out last term, but should teach me the fundamental aspects I hope)
  • Keep improving and learning new techniques, and keep challenging myself in my crafting. (Was that in school speak too much?!)
  • Make more effort to join in online; open-ended sew-alongs, challenges, commenting on blogs and sharing reviews and projects online.
  • Most importantly, I will enjoy my crafting and take my time to savour all the details. I rushed my knitting and learnt the hard way that I need to enjoy crafting in (slight) moderation, otherwise I may not be able to craft at all.

As a thank you for reading all that reflection, here are some pictures of some of my projects that didn’t make the top 5 hits… To see them in more detail, click on the newly organised pages at the top of the blog ūüôā

2013

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My wishlist

A little bird may have told you that it is someone’s birthday at the end of the month, and by pure coincidence here is a selection of things I have had my eye on lately.

wishlist

  1. Cake Hummingbird Pattern (skirt as seen in real life on SewLittleTime)
  2. Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat Pattern
  3. Colette Hawthorn Shirt-dress Pattern
  4. Cute Birdhouse Sewing Box
  5. Wooden Cantilever Sewing Box
  6. Birdie Embroidery Kit
  7. By Hand London Victoria Blazer Pattern (as sewn by everyone! I tried on SewDixieLou’s version and the style was great, not sure I’ll make mine tropical)
  8. Free & Easy Stitch Style (or similar free machine embroidery book)
  9. Storyland Cross Stitch
  10. Claire Schaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques

What exciting crafty goodies have you got your eye on at the moment?

A Beginner’s Guide to Couture Techniques

couture jacket 268bWhile working on my jacket I have used lots of tips and tutorials online (and in print). Here is my list of the best resources for learning to sew couture techniques.

  • Susan Khalje’s Craftsy Couture Dress¬†course. I made my¬†Peacock Dress¬†using this course, and used lots of the techniques again for this jacket. I would definitely recommend the course as it is full of lots of tips that can be applied to most projects; eg. use the stitch-lines not cutting lines for accuracy when sewing, and never baste in space (keep work flat so layers stay together and don’t bubble)underlining
  • Kenneth D King’s¬†Couture Techniques. I borrowed this from the library but will buy my own copy when I have to return it. He covers lots of techniques and tips and has a great approach to sewing; save your perfectionism for when/where it counts (said much more¬†eloquently ¬†on this podcast)
  • Gertie (blog and book) cover lots of classic techniques in an accessible way.details
  • Seamstress:¬†PoppyKettle¬†I was googling for sleeve-head tips and discovered this new-to-me blog and ended up staying and reading lots of other posts.
  • BurdaStyle has a great article about making a couture Chanel jacket, and the discussions make an interesting read.
  • Linking from BurdaStyle is Frabjous Couture’s day-by-day account of her couture jacket course with Susan Khalje. The course sounds amazing, and again I kept clicking through to different posts on her blog.welt pockets b
  • Welt-pockets –¬†Lastwear tutorial
  • Welt-pockets –¬†Colletterie’s Sew-Along post
  • My archive of Threads magazines always has useful tips and tricks. The recent special issue about fitting has been referred to a lot over the past few weeks. I can’t work out whether my subscription entitles me to free Insider access or not.couture
  • Finally, it isn’t specifically a couture book but if one of the marks of a great couture garment is a great fit then I have to include the brilliant Fit for Real People.

Have you sewn using couture techniques? If so, what tips and resources do you recommend?¬†If you haven’t, I hope these books and blogs give you some inspiration.

FO: BurdaStyle Turquoise Couture Jacket

Two months after¬†planning¬†and deliberating and after three solid weeks of sewing and construction, I have finally finished my BurdaStyle spring jacket, using couture techniques! This has been a bit of a marathon project, but in line with my sewlution I was determined to make it as good as I could. So here it is, my couture Chanel-esque jacket…


couture jacket 203b

I took lots of pictures now that I have a fresh battery for my remote-controlled clicker-thingy and had a bit of a photo-shoot (complete with outfit changes) in my building’s hallway. I suppose if I was doing it properly I would have painted my chipped-nails, however I have been putting off a good tidy-up until the jacket was finished (the boucl√© makes SO much mess, there was no point vacuuming before it was completed) and I always make the mistake of doing my nails before I do a job that ruins them!

PicMonkey Collage

I love the colour of the jacket with navy and white – perfect for summer – but will have to see what other outfits it works with. There are a couple of tweaks I had to make (poppers aren’t as strong as pins over a large moving bust, so I ended up having a lower v-neck than planned…) and a few adjustments I am going to make after seeing it in pictures; I added weights at the front but the jacket really needs a chain-weight to pull the back down as well, and the sleeve lining is a touch too long.

couture jacket 132b

You can see lots of the couture details (welt pockets, hand-stitching, etc) in my previous post but here are a few details I am rather proud of; the hand set-in sleeve head (done on the first attempt), the covered poppers/press-studs, and the invisible hand-stitching.

details

The images of the jacket in the magazine (and on the website) didn’t inspire me much, but I loved the front cover styling. Here is my version – can I pull off the stylish model pose?!

inspiration

I originally planned to get this made before Me Made May started (I didn’t quite realise the time this would take!) and have only just managed to complete it before the end of the month. I wonder if the weather will let me wear it before the month is over?¬†Now if you’ll excuse me, after all that concentration, I’m off to whip up some 1-hour jersey tops!

*****
Turquoise Couture Jacket

Pattern: BurdaStyle 02/2013 #106
Modifications: serious FBA, modified neckline due to popper-pressure over bust!

Fabric: Laurent Garigue cotton bouclé in turquoise and white, multi-coloured dot viscose lining, all from Stone Fabrics; underlined and interfaced in silk-organza from John Lewis.
Notions: 3/4 press-studs/poppers (will add chain weight)
Approximate spend: £65

Time taken: 2 weeks fitting, 3 weeks constructing (including 3 days of half-term holiday)

Constructing a couture-style jacket

You may remember that one of my Sewlutions this year, inspired by the lovely Karen, was

I am going to try to make less but make those things better (with more focus on fitting, finishing and doing things properly).

Well I think my next almost-finished garment should certainly meet the goal; my Burda Style jacket has taken almost 3 months to plan and make, so I hope all the extra time invested has made it a better make. Since the jacket will be fully-lined, I remembered to take some pictures of the couture style techniques I have been using, before they get hidden from sight. You might call it a behind the seams (geddit?!) look at my most recent sewing project.

I spent a few weeks making a muslin of the pattern, doing a Full Bust Adjustment on the princess seams, and then used the muslin as my pattern. I underlined the whole piece in silk organza (to give the loosely-woven cotton bouclé some structure), so transferred all the markings onto the organza before using this to cut out the main fabric. All the pattern pieces were then hand-basted along the stitching lines before I then hand-basted them together.

organza b

Despite having made a muslin I was happy with, the fit around the bust took a lot of tweaking to get right. I remember spending 2-3hours one night unpicking and re-basting the same 4″ of seam to get it right, and it took a week from cutting before I felt confident to sew on my machine.seams b

One of the main benefits of using a silk organza underlining is that it is so easy to catch-stitch the seam allowances to it, without touching the main fashion fabric at all. All the seams (I mean ALL, not just the important ones) were pressed flat then open, over a rolled up towel (my makeshift tailor’s ham) where necessary. Seams were clipped or notched before I sewed them flat against the jacket.

Once I had sewn the jacket together I had the next panic – welt pockets. Having never made them before, I did a practise on some scraps and found it wasn’t as tricky as I imagined. I measured the markings a million times before I sewed the welts in place, and then sat staring at the pockets for ages before I was brave enough to cut holes in my jacket. I finished the welts by hand, and fortunately the texture of the boucl√©¬†camouflaged¬†any minor imperfections.
welt pockets bI read that a couture jacket takes 70-80 hours to construct, including 17 hours to set-in the sleeves by hand, so the sleeves went in surprisingly smoothly. I basted the underarm and fitted the sleeve cap (must remember, fit left sleeve if right-handed!) in the mirror, before transferring the markings to the other sleeve. I took a bit off the height of the sleeve cap, which meant it fitted well with just a little easing by hand needed. I added a sleeve head after sewing the seam to be sure of the seam accuracy; the sleeve head made such a difference to my lumpy shoulders and I almost considered omitting the shoulder pads, but decided they gave a slightly better silhouette. The shoulder pads are raglan pads and were pad-stitched in place, again just to the underlining of the jacket.shoulders bWith the shoulders in place I could add the lining. The lining was cut the same as the jacket, except with an extra couple of inches at the centre back for movement ease and slightly lowered shoulders/sleeve cap to accommodate the shoulder pads. It is joined to the jacket at the contrast band; first I hand basted the lining in place to the jacket seam allowances, then I pressed and stitched the band over the lining.
hand sewing b

This has been a lot of work, more than I would normally go into, but the jacket should hopefully be worn for many years. I got rather frustrated with the time needed to hand-baste the seams and hand sew all the seam-allowances, but yesterday I was rather glad of the hand-sewing as it meant I could work on my jacket AND enjoy the rare sunshine. I took my jacket and a sewing kit to the park near my house and sat sewing while tourists wandered past. It was a much nicer environment than my living room, which is currently covered in a million little threads; if you haven’t used it before, I should warn you that boucl√© can fray.pros and cons b

All that is left to do is decide on the sleeve length and finish the sleeve/lining hems, and attach the poppers/press-studs. Hopefully there will be a finished outfit post before the week is over…

 

Review of 2012

Everyone else is doing it, so I’m going to follow the cool crowd and do my own review of the year. I love seeing reviews of the blogs I follow and remembering all the inspiring images and projects I have read and followed through the year, so I hope you enjoy mine as much.

I tried to pick just 5 or 10 top makes over the year, but as I looked through all my pictures* I saw so many makes I forgot about (because they have seamlessly merged into my wardrobe, not because I never looked at them again!) so here, sorted into categories, is my round up of the year…

In the category of Most worn garment of 2012 the nominees are:

most worn 2012

In the category of Best Fancy Dress of 2012 the nominees are:

  • Self-drafted boiler suit (worn to Secret Cinema showing of Promethius)
  • HRH The Queen cloak and sash (worn to a birthday party)
  • And the winner is… HRH The Queen! I loved this night out, the cloak was great for waving while dancing, and it can probably be reused for future parties with different themes.

fancy dress 2012

In the category of Most time-consuming make of 2012 the nominees are:

  • Miette cardigan (it has been a decade since I last knitted an adult-sized garment)
  • Peacock dress (hand-beaded, couture finish in expensive silk)
  • Colette Sorbetto (lots of pattern adjustments to get the perfect fit)
  • Jeanius Jeans (making a pattern from scratch and lots of muslins)
  • Minoru jacket (again, lots of muslins and adjustments)
  • And the winner is… The Peacock Dress! When people admired this dress and asked me to make them a dress, I added up costs of materials and my time (at least 15 hours of beading, 6 hours of fitting and tweaking, and many, many hours of construction including 4 hours hand-sewing the hem!) to give a quote of just a little under 4 digits. Surprisingly nobody made further requests…

most time consuming 2012

In the category of Most unusual craft location of 2012 the nominees are:

  • in a cable car over the Thames (going between Olympic venues)
  • on a beach in the middle of Camden at 7am (after the start of the last leg of the Olympic Torch relay)
  • outside Buckingham Palace while waiting for Olympic cyclists to arrive.
  • And the winner is… The Beach in Camden at 7am. A beach in Camden is pretty unusual. Being there before breakfast is even more unusual. Sitting in baking sunshine by 8.30am in England is definitely the most unusual happening!

most unusual location 2012

The final category is for projects that I would never have believed were possible a couple of years ago (well possible for other people, but not me!). In the category of Most life-changing make of 2012 the nominees are:

  • the Peacock dress (sewing with silk, couture techniques, hand beading)
  • Jeanius jeans (making a pair of jeans without a proper pattern)
  • spotty Burda blouse (I’ve never even managed to buy well-fitted woven tops before)
  • Miette cardigan (not just a knitted garment, but one that fits without gaping!)
  • Minoru raincoat (It is a coat. I can wear it when it rains. I don’t get wet!)
  • And the winner is… the spotty woven Burda blouse. The other nominees may be fancy or more technical, but as a curvy girl I have never worn or owned nice woven tops (without them looking unflattering) so this blouse makes anything seem possible. Plus, when I tried on the finished blouse I wanted to wear it immediately, which is always a good sign.

most groundbreaking 2012

Looking through all my pictures there were so many that didn’t make the nominations, so here is the best of the rest.best of the rest 2012

Top row, left- right: Sorbetto top, giraffe crochet hat, Birthday Butterfly dress
Middle row, left-right:
Summertime skirt, Embroidered Embroidery case, iPad case
Bottom row, left-right:
Blogging meet up and shopping, Denim Traveller dress, United Stashes of Awesome skirt

A lot of great crafting and great memories this year, I hope you have enjoyed reading all about them on my little blog. Thank you to all my followers and for all the lovely comments. Happy New Year!

* I am aware that some pictures haven’t been blogged, or some makes haven’t been photographed. Sorry. Will try and do better this year!

My crafting week in pictures

It has been a bit of an odd week this week – back to school exhaustion and September summer weather haven’t really allowed much serious crafting time. I have been doing little bits of various projects but not completing anything, so here is a little round up of my week.

  1. A peach and raspberry upside-down cake made for a family gathering this afternoon. This is my first attempt at an upside down cake and it doesn’t look too bad (apart from the sunken berries in the centre) and certainly smells good! The dark patches aren’t burnt, they are the caramel topping!
  2. Ballgowns at the V&A organised by Karen. It was so exciting meeting all these people I have read about for years, although it was hard trying not to sound like a stalker (“Hi, I’m Alison.” Hi. I’m Dibs.” “I know who you are.”) Karen has a round up of the night here, but for me highlights of the night included meeting all those famous faces face-to-face, when a reader said she knew my blog, spotting some not-so-perfect details in the couture (giving us hope we can get to that level!) and all the general sewing chit-chat. I wore my USA skirt and a few sewists asked about the print, yet nobody at work noticed I had the Statue of Liberty all over me – are sewists more observant, or do my colleagues now expect me to dress bizarrely?!
  3. Continuing crocheting my way through the 200 block CAL. Nearly finished block number 3.
  4. Delivery of Gertie’s new book. We flipped through a copy on Friday night (discussing with Melissa, in her newly finished peplum top, why there were no trouser patterns) and I got home to discover mine waiting for me. I have read a couple of chapters and flicked through the rest, and am now deciding which pattern to try – I’m leaning towards one of the blouses and their many variations.
  5. After the nightmares of last weekend, I am finally on the home leg of my corduroy skirt, and am hand-sewing the lining in place to the zip. The sunny weather isn’t really motivating me to finish it quickly, as it is definitely a boots-and-tights skirt.

How has your week been? For those in the UK, have you got any crafting done or have you been too busy enjoying the sunshine?

Peacocks at the zoo

Last week, you may know, was my big brother’s wedding in Bristol Zoo, and the first outing of my Peacock dress. So here is a picture post full of animals and sequins!

The final dress complete with beautiful corsage.

Silly wally pose!

Teeny baby meerkat!

Fascinating feathery fascinator.

I put the fascinator on a headband in the end and it stayed in place all day, although some of the feathers didn’t like all the rain and drizzle.

Sea-lion enjoying the rain.

Beautiful silk shining under the disco lights.

I love the two-tone effect of the silk ūüôā I’d like to say that I spent hours choosing the perfect length for the dress, but I was limited by fabric. However I think the length and a-line combination was great – long enough to feel decently dressed but short and swishy enough to feel fun.
p.s. look at that invisible hem!

"Hello, ooh look at that lovely dress."

A good view of all the hand-beading.

Sadly a couple of sequins didn’t survive all the dancing, but the fit had plenty of dancing-ease.

Pitter patter raindrops.

Stripey lemurs.

It is pretty rare to wear something for a whole day and night of walking, eating, standing, posing, eating and lots of dancing, and then crawl into a cab after midnight still feeling totally comfortable (pointy stilettos excluded!). But this dress fitted like a glove – no waistband digging into the wrong place, no straps slipping down the shoulders, and no lining twisting around. The dress got a big test-wear and here is the proof…

Rocking on the dance floor

Peacock in progress

After a nightmare in which I turned up at the wedding in an un-hemmed dress with basting lines visible, I have worked away on my dress to get it closer to completion. (I worked until the sunshine suddenly disappeared, so the colour in these pictures is totally off)

The silk didn’t like being gathered on either the bodice or the skirt, so there were some adjustments to be made on the fashion fabric. The bodice needed lots of adjusting as I wore it, and now has a pleat/tuck at the centre, to take away some of the fullness from the gathering.

The dress was supposed to have a flared skirt, but in the stiff dupion it looked a bit too voluminous. After lots of uhmming and ahhing and fear of making irreversible changes to the silk, I used the pattern for an a-line dress and traced new sewing lines. This worked but unfortunately the silhouette didn’t look like it would work with pockets ūüė¶ I had been getting rather excited by the prospect of formal clothes with pockets!

The hem needs to be sewn up and will be just above knee-length – I added a generous couple of inches to the length when I cut the pattern out, and the new stitching lines seem to be the perfect length.

I had to re-watch some of Susan Khalje’s craftsy videos again to remember some of the techniques for inserting the zipper, and attaching the bodice lining.

Hand sewn zipper

Carefully matched seam-lines

Invisibly hand sewn lining

Now all that is left to do is the hem, skirt and midriff lining and some couture finishing touches. I think I may add a final beaded motif to the centre back – what do you think?

Peacock progress

Work on the peacock dress is moving at a good pace, despite the ridiculous amount of hand sewing and preparation to get a couture finish.

So far I am enjoying the techniques as I can see how they will provide a finer finished item, although I am looking forward to rustling up a couple of cheap-and-cheerful unfinished garments.

I am interlining the dress in organza, and the organza layer serves as a pattern so there is no need to mark the fashion fabric. I cut out all the organza pieces (with generous seam allowances) and marked all the pattern info on them. Then it was time to lay them out.

Blocking the hallway with my fabric

I had to go outside and use the landing outside my flat, and I am so glad I could play with the layout as there was only just enough fabric. I adjusted the pattern as it had a seam down the centre of the front skirt – the fabric was too narrow to cut this on the fold, so I created panels at the front.

I spent at least an hour fine-tuning the placement of the pattern pieces, measuring the distance from the grain-lines to the selvedge to the nearest millimetre, resulting in a rather sore back the next day! However the bonus of this careful preparation was that it took less than five minutes to cut up all the fabric. One of Susan Khalje’s key techniques is to ignore 5/8″ seam allowances and cutting lines, and just focus on the stitching lines (which are transferred and basted everywhere). This means, as long as the stitching lines are clearly marked, you can cut the fabric however you want, leaving generous seam allowances = super speedy cutting as you don’t have to be mega accurate.

Once all the pieces were cut out it is time to carefully hand baste the interlining to the fashion fabric. This takes time. A lot of time. Especially when you have to re-baste the same line four times because it isn’t quite smooth. (I must confess I have only done the bodice and midriff pieces so far, as there was only so much I could take at once).

Next, more basting, but this time actually attaching pattern pieces together, before finally getting the sewing machine out to sew some seams. The seams are all carefully pressed and catch-stitched to the interlining, without a mark appearing on the right-side of the garment.

Hand-basting, pressed seams and catch-stitching

Due to the cross-over detail of the bodice I had to attach the lining to this section and finished it using my new best friends…

My couture best friends

When I made this dress before, I top-stitched around the bodice neckline to keep the lining in place, but it really wouldn’t look right on this dress. I am wondering about hand-stitching some seed beads every few centimetres to keep the layers in place – is that too much detail?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I have also sewn 879 beads and 462 sequins on the midriff band so it is now ready to attach to the bodice. I have left a little space until I know exactly where the zipper will go, if I ever find one in an acceptable colour!